What to Expect from Cowboys Rookie MLB Anthony Hitchens

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Sep 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee (50) after the game against the St. Louis Rams at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Well, as a die-hard, life long member of Cowboy Nation, I must report that I slept well last night. Don’t worry, I’m not going to sell you a mattress with this article. It’s just that I know that you already know that Sean Lee, our starting middle linebacker and often amongst the team leader in total tackles is injured.

Sean Lee is now out for the season after tearing the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in his left knee on the first day of the Cowboys OTA (Organized Team Activities). Do I have to add that Sean Lee’s injury was not the fault of rookie Zack Martin? If you watch the video, you’ll notice that even though it’s a “No Contact” drill, the receivers are blocking & engaging their assignments downfield.

 

Sean Lee’s Total Tackles

and Team Ranking

Year

Team

Rank

Total

Tackles

2013

2nd

99

2012

4th

58

2011

1st

105

2010

11th

32

 

Thanks to this news, I know that many of you tossed and turned all night, worrying about the Cowboys defense. The Cowboys are not desperate or in trouble. Comically, I’ve seen suggestions that the Cowboys should sign the retired former Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Yeah, lets skip the young players we have and see how much production we can get from a 37 year old Urlacher – no thanks.

Just last week, I mentioned the Cowboys’ depth at the linebacker position. DeVonte Holloman was outstanding as a middle linebacker in last year’s season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. This year, with Lee now out, Holloman, Anthony Hitchens and Will Smith will be a dominating linebacker group in the present and distant future. Sean Lee may become a footnote in Cowboys’ linebacker history, joining players like: Dat Nguyen (1999 – 2005), Zach Thomas (2008), Jack Del Rio (1989 – 1991), Ken Norton (1988 – 1993), Dexter Coakley (1997 – 2004), Randall Godfrey (1996 – 1999), Darren Hambrick (1998 – 2001) and Bob Breunig (1975 – 1984). These players were all solid contributors for the Cowboys, but we eventually moved on to the next man up.

For Sean Lee’s middle linebacker position, the next man up is Anthony Hitchens. It’s the reason the Cowboys selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. He was asked if he was ready to be the Cowboys starting middle linebacker. Hitchens replied, “Honestly, right now, no, but I will get there. It’s going to take time. I have still got to get everything down. If we had a game tomorrow, no, but it’s a good thing we don’t. I have time to get better.”

This is an honest assessment from a rookie on his first day of OTA’s. His quote is getting more headlines than I expected. It would alarm me more if he said that he knew everything there is to know and was ready to dominate the league. Hitchens has a full training camp and off-season to learn the position. Since Hitchens played at the University of Iowa against opponents like Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Nebraska and LSU, I believe his learning curve won’t be too severe and he’ll be ready to open eyes on opening day. That’s the benefit of drafting players from schools with strong football programs instead of searching for diamonds in the rough from NCAA Division 3.

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